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Is Your Breakfast Cereal Harming Your Health?

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Lots of us munch on cereals for breakfast - and why not? They're a healthy way to start the day...right?! Pick up any box of cereal in the supermarket and there’s almost always a “scientific” claim along with the statements of tastiness and yumminess. Well, we have a few facts which might make you think differently about the most important meal of the day...

Breakfast Cereals = Sugar Overload

If you ask your kids what they want for breakfast, they'll probably request the sweet cereals. You don't need us to tell us the "frosted" and chocolate cereals are packed with sugar - one bowl of Frosties, Honey Nut Cornflakes or Coco Pops can have up to 12g of the white stuff. That's over 80% of the daily recommended amount for children before they've even left the house in the morning!

These breakfast cereals may be fortified with vitamins and iron, but that doesn't make up for the harmful amounts of sugar which are directly linked with tooth decay and many other health problems in kids, including diabetes and obesity. Most parents will know the dangers of sugar rushes (and subsequent crashes) too, which can make it hard for children to concentrate in school. 

Perhaps just as worrying though is the hidden sugar in supposedly "healthy" cereals. Bran flakes, "diet" cereals like Special K, granola and even muesli can be packed with sugar, depsite being marketed as healthy options. One bowl of Kellogs Bran Flakes contains 6g of sugar - the same as two chocolate biscuits. It may be a pain, but always check the label before you buy – fruit and nuts don’t guarantee a healthy sugar content! 

The Salt Factor

Sugar is usually the biggest factor we take into account when choosing our cereals. Well, there’s something else you need to worry about (sorry). You probably already know about salt’s contribution to heart disease and high blood pressure. Yet this isn’t all – salt dehydrates us, which I’m sure you know isn’t a good start to the day. We need a bit of salt, yes, but many cereals have high levels of added salt. Why? Because when combined with the sugar, it makes them taste good! Again, check the labels before you buy. 

Not All Bad...

To end on a positive note, cereals themselves aren't bad for us. While processed cereals have little to offer in terms of nutrients, wholegrain cereals contains vitamin B, fibre, and many other valuable nutrients. Fibre helps with the digestive system, and will reduce the risk of heart failure and type-2 diabetes. It's the added sugar and salt in breakfast cereals (even wholegrain) found in the supermarkets that make the packaged stuff bad for our health.

Rather than buying shop-bought breakfast cereal, why not start the day with a bowl of porridge instead? It takes just a few minutes to make, and you know exactly what’s going into it. Add a spoonful of nut butter for some protein and added minerals, top with chopped fruit, and you have a tasty, healthy breakfast that is pretty light on the pocket too! Alternatively, just get good at checking the labels before you buy - look for good quality, artisan cereals and steer clear of anything with added sugar and salt. 

  #Columns   #breakfast   #Health Hacker   #health   #healthy   #sugar   #salt   #cereal

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